How To Know When You’re Playing Against a Poker Bot

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BetMGM Nov 29, 2023, 9:35 AM

Poker bots are pieces of software designed to play online poker without human oversight. Unlike human players, a poker bot never misplays a hand, never goes on tilt, and can keep playing indefinitely without ever getting tired. Bots are also an inescapable reality of the online poker world, so it helps to be able to identify them when you play poker online. How do you recognize a bot? Read on for ideas on how to unmask a poker bot at the table — and do something about it.

What Is a Poker Bot and Are They Legal?

Poker bots are computer programs that are designed to play online poker without the need for human oversight. Unlike playing against a human, when you play against an AI poker bot, you’re often at a disadvantage from the get-go. Bots don’t succumb to tilt, never misplay a hand, and never get tired of playing.

So, the question is, are poker bots legal? It isn’t technically illegal to play poker with bots in most jurisdictions, but all online poker sites ban the use of bots. So, while you may not be arrested for using a bot, you can definitely still get blocklisted from your favorite online poker site. 

How Do Poker Bots Work?

When trying to spot an online poker bot it helps to understand how bots operate. Basically, poker bots are pieces of software programmed to collect data on their opponents. A poker bot will remember every move you and your fellow players make and use the data to analyze the statistical probability of your actions based on your gaming history. Poker bot users simply crank them up, make a poker account for them to use, and wait as the bot’s flawless machine memory goes to work. And poker bots make awful opponents. When you play with poker bots, you can’t intimidate them because they have no emotions. They don’t understand the concept of money, so they aren’t afraid to lose — they just keep grinding away, applying pure mathematical analysis to identify your patterns. Quite unfair, you’ll agree. With that in mind, read on to learn how to identify a poker bot.

Consistent Time To Act

A poker bot’s most obvious “tell” is taking the exact same amount of time to act on every one of its moves. Imagine the following scenario. You enter the pot by calling rather than raising (otherwise known as limping.) Your opponent takes just a few seconds to ponder their move and raises. You call, make a continuation bet on the flop, and check. Your opponent thinks for precisely the same number of seconds as before and checks back. You bet on the turn, then your opponent thinks for the exact same length of time and folds. Why is this suspicious? Well, you’d expect a human opponent to tank over some of those decisions. If this pattern continues over an extended period of time, it’s a fairly reliable sign that your opponent could be a bot. That’s because a bot only needs a few seconds to analyze the hand and reach the best decision its programming can provide, while human reaction times tend to vary.

No Chatting

So you’re playing in a tournament, and the game’s down to three players. You suggest cutting a deal, and Player X agrees. Player Y, though, doesn’t answer in the chat. You call a moderator to nudge Y in the form of a direct message. No response. Without any communication from Y, you can’t cut a deal and have to keep on playing. Strangely, Y keeps playing their hands despite not responding to any communication. This potentially suspicious situation could indicate that Player Y is a poker bot. Don’t jump to conclusions, though. A player might be unresponsive because they didn’t notice that you said anything or simply because they don’t like using the chat feature.

Machine-Like Endurance

The opponent who just doesn’t ever quit playing could be following some kind of top-secret experimental endurance program, or they could be a bot. Imagine you’ve just started a session, and you notice your silent opponent, Player Y, playing at a few tables. After a fun session, you’re about to log out when you notice that Y is still playing and decide to watch them for a while. You observe that their style of play is just as methodical and consistent at the end of a session as at the beginning. Okay, that’s not necessarily suspicious, but you decide to investigate further. You study this mysterious player for a few days and realize that they spends far more time at the tables than a reasonable person ever could. And they never seem to get tired, always playing in that consistent, systematic way. In all likelihood, you’ve spotted a bot.

Too Many Tables and Games

Now that you’re wiser to the ways of bots, you start keeping a lookout. One day, you encounter another opponent, Player Z, whose style of play and long hours set off a few alarms. Then you notice that they’re playing 20 tables all at the same time. This practically confirms that Z is a bot. The reason is that poker bots tend to maximize value through the volume of play. It’s even more telling if the suspect is playing different poker variants at once. After all, you’d have to be a machine to be able to handle Texas Hold ’em, Omaha, and Seven-Card Stud all at once.

The Impact of Bots and Other AI on the Online Casino Industry

The influence of AI on the online casino industry is unmistakable. In recent years, Artificial Intelligence has ushered in a new era of innovation, reshaping player interactions, bolstering casino security, and much more.

In the world of online poker, for example, players are embracing AI-powered software to make smarter and more informed decisions, gaining a notable edge with each hand. AI’s role extends to fortifying security measures by detecting fraudulent activities and safeguarding player data. Additionally, AI has revolutionized customer support, with AI-driven chatbots swiftly addressing player inquiries, enhancing engagement, and lightening the load for customer service teams. AI’s versatility even extends to tailoring personalized bonuses, enriching the gaming experience.

As technology evolves, AI’s imprint on the casino industry is set to grow, promising a future marked by innovation and optimization, benefitting both operators and players. Still, a lot of gambling enthusiasts and casino employees are concerned about whether AI is going to take over the casino industry. While it certainly has had a significant impact, it’s important to note that AI is there to enhance player experiences and ease the burden of mundane, repetitive tasks rather than replacing human involvement completely.

AI is a powerful tool that aids players, improves security, and refines the overall gaming experience. However, the human element of strategy, creativity, and decision-making remains irreplaceable in the world of poker and casino gaming. So, while AI plays a vital role, the notion of robots taking over the casino industry is more about augmentation than complete automation.

Are Poker Bots Better Than Humans?

Now that you know more about the impact of AI on online poker, a new question arises: are poker bots actually better players than humans?

It’s an intriguing debate. On one hand, poker bots possess unwavering precision, never faltering in their strategies or succumbing to emotions like tilt. They tirelessly analyze data and apply mathematical calculations, often outperforming human opponents in terms of consistency and adherence to optimal play.

However, it’s important to remember that poker is more than just mathematical analysis; it involves psychology, intuition, and adaptability. Humans bring creativity, strategic bluffing, and the ability to read opponents to the table — qualities that are beyond the reach of AI. While bots excel in certain areas, they lack the depth of human intelligence. So, the question of whether poker bots are genuinely superior remains open-ended, as both AI and humans bring their unique strengths and weaknesses to the game.

How To Deal With a Bot

So you think you’ve unmasked a bot? What next? The best advice is to lower your bets to minimize potential losses or move to another table. Whatever you do, don’t rush out and blow their cover publicly. It’s just too risky for you and the other player. If the player is banned on the strength of an accusation that eventually turns out to be false, they could suffer a lot of harm for nothing. And if it turns out that your accusation is unfounded, your reputation will be shredded in the eyes of the poker community. Nobody likes a player who’s always claiming that the game is rigged. The best thing to do is to contact a moderator to start an investigation. That way, you protect your identity and that of the other player until there’s a conclusion.

Avoid Bots in Online Poker With Live Dealer Games

One way to cut out the bot factor completely is to switch to live-dealer games. Instead of seeing a bunch of player avatars in a two-dimensional online poker room, you play against a real live dealer who’s dealing cards from a real deck at a genuine green baize poker table. As for the other players, they’re certifiably human because poker bots can’t read real cards. You can join in specific live dealer variants of Texas Hold ’em, Caribbean Stud, and other great poker live stream games. All in all, live dealer games are the best way to capture the experience of playing in a land-based casino without sacrificing the convenience of playing poker games online.

Play Honest Poker Games Online at BetMGM

Life’s too short to play against bots. Rather register to play poker online at BetMGM, where top-notch security keeps those pesky bots out of its online poker rooms and ensures that the live-stream poker games you play are the real deal.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.